Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

ANC 6D heard a presentation on Monday night from the team working on the South Capitol Street Environmental Impact Statement, which is now in its "final preferred alternative" stage. Their PowerPoint presentation was pretty close to the one I posted last month, and one of the consultants did tweak me a bit about how I "spoiled the surprise" on the choice of the arched bascule design for the new Douglass Bridge.
Here again are the (long!) bullet points about what the preferred alternative designs are for the portion of South Capitol west of the Anacostia (see the presentation if you're interested in the preferred alternatives chosen for east of the river), along with some issues raised by the ANC:
* It was emphasized that these new designs will not be adding any capacity, but that the main goal is to bring back the "boulevard" feeling of the corridor.
* The new bridge will have 20-foot-wide sidewalks on each side, and only two piers will need to be built in the river, compared to 3-5 piers that would have been needed with the other designs. (The cable stayed swing bridge would have had just one pedestrian/bike path, 16 feet wide, in the middle of the bridge, surrounded by six lanes of traffic.)
* There will be a seven-acre traffic oval at the foot of the new bridge (which will be located to the south of the current bridge), reshaping the intersection of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. (The ballpark's Home Plate Gate and entrance promenade will be the northeast edge of the oval.) The city is already in the process of acquiring seven properties or portions of properties that will be needed for the oval and bridge footprint, including the red brick warehouse on the northwest corner of South Capitol and Potomac. This oval is on the NCPC list of locations for future memorials and museums.
* The intersection of South Capitol Street and M Street will become an at-grade intersection (no more underpass for through traffic). ANC chair Andy Litsky expressed great concern about how this could make the intersection even more dangerous than it already is, to which the DDOT team replied that the reconfiguration should make it safer. (Certainly it would seem that having a "normal" intersection with two left-turn lanes in most directions would be an improvement safety-wise over the existing mish-mash of lights and poorly striped turn-lanes, but then there will also be a lot more cars cycling through once the tunnel lanes are gone.)
* There will be modifications to South Capitol's interchange with the SE/SW Freeway, with the replacement of the ramp that begins at I Street with an at-grade intersection underneath the freeway that would have two left-turn lanes to a new ramp. With the existing ramp removed, the intersection at South Capitol and I would also be reconfigured.
* The northern section of South Capitol Street will match the reconfigured portion between N Street and Potomac Avenue, as a six-lane boulevard with a median and wide sidewalks.
Commissioners McBee and Moffatt asked as they have in the past about whether the existing bridge could be kept as a pedestrian/bike-only bridge, but DDOT explained that since the swing span would continue to need to be opened for river traffic, the cost of maintaining the old bridge just isn't feasible. (The RiverFront folks might also be a teensy bit upset that their land that's beneath the current bridge wouldn't be coming back to them.) And the team also indicated that this new bridge does not preclude the construction (Some Day, Perhaps, in Some Far Off Time) of a tunnel to move non-local traffic from Anacostia to I-395.
They expect the final Record of Decision from the feds this fall; however, when pressed for a start date, they said 2011 would be the absolute earliest for the start of construction (with completion possibly in 2015), but that as of now there's no funding for the $700 million project. It's also possible that portions of the designs could be undetaken if partial funding is received.
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Jim says: (2/3/09 12:27 PM)
The M St/S Capitol intersection is currently very dangerous for pedestrians. If you are driving north to turn onto M, there are walls on both sides (especially the left), making it hard to see pedestrians on the sidewalk.

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